Author: Brunonia Barry
Series: The Lace Reader #2
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
On November 1, 1989, a little girls is found, crying and almost catatonic, in some bramble bushes at a murder scene. Three young women, including the girl’s mother, have been brutally murdered, and the little girl has been spared. The women have all been accused of witchcraft, and the woman they live with, Rose Whelan, is a scholar on the Salem witches. She is also accused of the murder. The little girl, Callie, is taken in by local nuns and the only obvious repercussion to her is a large rose-shaped cut on her hand from the rosary she held tightly all night long.
Present day Salem brings another murder charge to Rose, who was exonerated of the murder of the three girls, commonly known as the Goddesses around town. They are known for their sexual exploits and the pull they have on the men in town. Rose has never been the same since the incident, and after this new murder accusation, she becomes catatonic and is hospitalized. Callie is called to tend to Rose, and all of the secrets of her mother’s and Rose’s past are brought to light again.
Callie becomes involved with the son of a prominent “old money” family, and as she gets to know the family, she learns many more secrets about the Goddesses and Rose. Close family friends also provide answers and provoke memories that Callie completely forgot. Callie finishes Rose’s research about the hanging of several accused witches in Salem and discovers things that people have been keeping from her all her life.
This book is a long read that gives its readers many opportunities to figure out what happened to Callie’s mother all those years ago and why. Just when the reader thinks it is figured out, however, something new comes along to challenge that theory. There is a lot of backstory involved, which at times is confusing, but it all adds up to a thick, rich story. Readers will need to pay attention to keep track of the huge cast of characters, both present and past, in order to piece together the events that happened the night Callie lost her mother. I enjoyed the constant tease of the revelation that was then pulled back to reveal more to the story. The unfolding of the characters’ involvement with one another and the murders is complex and adds another layer to the mystery of Callie’s past. There is a bit of mysticism and fantasy at play, as several of the characters see visions, predict the future, and read minds. All put together, The Fifth Petal is a mystery that has so much more.
I highly recommend this book to people who love mysteries with a bit of fantasy. It does contain sexual situations, some profanity, and violence, and is therefore recommended for mature readers only.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.